AEW has been the best new thing in pro-wrestling for a couple of years now and has made its mark on the industry in a massive way, just as many predicted when Tony Khan’s creation was first bubbling, and all we had was rumors. As well as a place for veterans like Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega and Eddie Kingston to appear on, it’s also been a home for young stars. One of the brightest is Wardlow, an Ohioan who has been catching the eye of many since his AEW debut in 2019.
As is becoming more common with the rise in popularity of MMA these days, Wardlow has a martial arts background. Outside of pro-wrestling, he has trained in boxing and Jiu-Jitsu. He is also an avid weightlifter, which is not hard to believe looking at his frame.
At 6’2” and 267lbs, he is an intimidating character but a great worker in the ring. His signature move is an F10, essentially a more reckless, standing version of Brock Lesnar’s F5.
In terms of the independent circuit, Wardlow made his debut at American Revolution Wrestling, where he lost to Nickie Valentino. This was March of 2014, and from there, Wardlow continued to wrestle in various promotions, but it was in the IWC (International Wrestling Cartel) where he had his first taste of success. There, he won the IWC Heavyweight Championship by defeating Canada’s RJ City. He ended up being a three-time holder of that belt, along with the IWC Super Cindy Championship and the Revenge Pro Wrestling World Title at RPW. The latter of those came in March of 2019, five years after his professional wrestling debut. Later that year, AEW aired a video package teasing Wardlow’s debut, and he made his first appearance with the promotion on November 13th.
On the episode of AEW Dynamite that he debuted on, Wardlow made a great first impression. He attacked Cody Rhodes and aligned himself with Cody’s rival, MJF (Maxwell Jacob Friedman), essentially becoming his bodyguard. For the next few months, we saw him only suited up as MJF’s muscle. During this time, there could have been skepticism about his future, but AEW had already built a solid reputation and were trusted, so instead, fans were intrigued with where he could go. He stayed as MJF’s enforcer while his momentum continued to build, and finally, on the February 19th episode of AEW Dynamite, he made his debut.
It wasn’t just some match either. Wardlow’s first AEW match was one with Cody Rhodes. Oh, and it took place in a steel cage. This happened because it was one of three stipulations that MJF set Cody to do before wrestling each other. Cody had to beat Wardlow in a steel cage match, not touch MJF until their match and take ten lashes with a leather belt.
Wardlow lost the match to Cody, who stole the limelight with his moonsault at the end, but it only grew the Ohioan’s star potential in people’s eyes because it was one of the better TV matches to take place all of last year. From then on, he has continued to prove his ability as a pro-wrestler and is one to watch this year.
As of November, he is currently part of Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle, which also consists of MJF, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, and Santana and Ortiz. The idea amongst fans is that for now, Wardlow is doing great alongside MJF. Still, a disagreement feels inevitable, and when he becomes his own singles competitor is when we’ll truly see what Wardlow’s ceiling is. Until then, we’re all enjoying the ride.